UK forced adoptions of foreign nationals

(346 Posts)
Hummingbirds Sun 11-Nov-12 21:34:11

This is sick! How come in Slovakia the media has reported on this extensively and they've had demonstrations outside the British embassy yet here in the UK there's been almost total silence? With a few honourable exceptions including journalist Christopher Booker and MP John Hemming.

"... The case that goes to the Appeal Court this week concerns two young boys, Slovakian subjects, whose parents have lived and worked in Britain since their country joined the EU in 2004. Two years ago, when the parents took one of their sons to hospital to enquire about a minor infection, social workers were alerted that it might be the result of a 'non-accidental injury'. The boys were put into the temporary care of the family's American pastor, who describes how social workers then arrived with three police cars to remove the children, screaming as they were torn from their horrified mother and grandmother, to an official foster home.

"Thus began a protracted legal battle, involving many court hearings, four different social workers, seven 'expert' doctors and psychologists, 16 interpreters, 13 different 'contact supervisors' and dozens of lawyers. Initially the local authority seemed happy to contemplate that the children might be returned to live with their grandmother in Slovakia, but the social workers of a council that advertises its enthusiasm for adoption on its website then suggested to the foster carers that they might like to adopt the boys.

"By now the Slovak authorities were involved and could see no reason why the children should not come back to live with their grandmother. But earlier this year a judge found in favour of the council, ruling, to the astonishment of the Slovak authorities, that the boys should be adopted."

"The case has attracted widespread media interest in Slovakia, and the Slovak justice ministry has posted on its website a 'Declaration on adoption of Slovak children in the UK', stating that it has such 'serious concern' over the workings of Britain's 'family protection' system, and the readiness of the British authorities to remove children from their 'biological parents' for 'no sound reason', that its representative on the ECHR plans to challenge the legality of Britain's policy in Strasbourg."

"... the Slovak media claim to know of some 30 other Slovak children taken from their parents."

Read the full Telegraph article

johnhemming Sat 17-Nov-12 20:49:26

There are lots and lots of cases. Mainly UK citizens, but they don't have a government to fight for them.

Xenia Sat 17-Nov-12 21:02:28

And it could be any mumsnetter tomorrow affected by this. In fact as they now steal children from you even for emotional abuse just about any of us with children at home could lose them if social services got involved. I will only feel safe when my youngest are adult.

Devora Sat 17-Nov-12 21:03:06

Hummingbird, to understand you need to know the context and history of all the threads on this topic on Mumsnet. Have a search and a read.

Xenia, yes adoption is final - because children deserve to have permanence and security and parents that will be theirs forever. Ask Maryz about the situation in Ireland, where children of married parents cannot be adopted without parental consent, and the hellish limbo many of them are consigned to.

JacquelineHyde - thanks for your really interesting post. Can I ask you a bit more about it? Do you think that the differences and deficiencies in these two cases were down to individual social workers? Or is there something systemic and institutionalised that needs tackling? How do you feel entering the system as a student sw?

amillionyears Sat 17-Nov-12 21:09:53

I agree Xenia [not following you btw].
I too only fully relaxed about ss when my children were about 16.When they are about 16 1/2, it is too near the 17 year old mark when ss think that by the time all the officialdom is done, the child will be 17 anyway.
I just think, you can never be sure of what is going to happen, what could go wrong to just about anyone.
Dont want to scare anyone, but mistakes are made. And I didnt fancy it being me.
I did foster at one stage, when they had to do very thorough checks beforehand, so thought at that time,that that might stand me in very good stead further down the line, if anything did go wrong.

amillionyears Sat 17-Nov-12 21:11:52

Devora, is it still done, do I understand correctly, that birth parents are allowed to send a birthday card, and christmas card to their child if he/she has been adopted? Which didnt used to be the case?

Goldchilled7up Sat 17-Nov-12 21:21:13

I'm shocked and disturbed by these examples. It is indeed scary and sad sad

Hummingbirds Sat 17-Nov-12 21:30:33

JaquelineHyde -- Thank you for offering your perspective. The idea of depriving a newborn of being breastfed is pretty shocking -- of course, not all new mothers will breastfeed anyway, but the bond between mother and newborn is essential to a baby's emotional development. Do you agree?

Xenia -- I agree with everything you've said on this issue. The idea of forbidding a child from contact with their parent and vice versa is extraordinarily monstrous. It is the sort of thing that used to happen in the USSR under Stalin.

John Humming -- I'd be interested to hear approximately how many cases you've come across so far which you'd consider wrong removals of children.

Also, I'd be interested to hear what other posters think of Michael Gove's announcement yesterday that babies should be removed from their families if their nappies aren't changed regularly: Gove: More children should be taken into care to stop them suffering 'a life of soiled nappies, scummy baths, chaos and hunger'

Devora Sat 17-Nov-12 21:31:29

amillionyears, the trend is toward more open adoption. The child's needs are paramount, and are evaluated on an individual basis. So there is no rule on this, but yes, I think in most cases there is some kind of indirect contact (exchange of letters, birthday cards etc). Sometimes there is direct contact - at one stage I was hoping to adopt a child where it is was planned that she would have regular face to face contact with her birth father. There may also be direct or indirect contact with other members of the birth family, like grandparents.

Devora Sat 17-Nov-12 21:37:10

Hummingbirds, do you think that the idea of forbidding contact between parent and child is extraordinarily monstrous when that parent has stubbed out cigarettes on that child? Or sexually abused that child? Or involved that child in a paedophile ring? I know adopters whose children have been through all those things - do you seriously think that those children would have been better off with their birth parents?

Seems to me you're slipping from 'taking children into care unjustly is monstrous' (with which we would all agree) to 'taking children into care is always monstrous' which is something else again.

Oh, and Michael Gove didn't say children should be taken into care JUST for not having their nappies changed regularly. He argued that the bar for taking children into care should be lower. Whether or not you agree with him, it is ridiculous to traduce his argument in that way.

amillionyears Sat 17-Nov-12 21:44:20

To me, there is middle ground.
It has been explained to me by social workers, that ss has a tendancy to swing one way and then swing the other.
That there will be a high profile media case, such as Baby P. Then social workers are trained and advised on what went wrong in cases like that, and then go too far the other way. Etc.

FamiliesShareGerms Sat 17-Nov-12 21:55:00

Xenia, I have always enjoyed reading your posts and admired your stance on so many things. Possibly even seen you a bit as a role model for working women. But with one post (the "I'd do away with adoption because it is so final" one) I'm afraid you have completely slipped in my estimation.

No reason for you to care about this, of course, and it is a digression from the thread. But can you really not see why the permanency of adoption is (for many, not all) children exactly the right thing for them?

And back on the thread: I am sure that there are many mistakes made by SS, just as there are in any profession. But so often that point gets swallowed up by the "Nazi social services who swoop in steal cute kids to put up for adoption to hit financial targets using the secret courts system to hide their evil doings" mantra. Which is frankly not helpful to the children (who should be at the heart of the system, not the parents), nor the parents and wider family affected by a decision to take a child into care.

Xenia Sat 17-Nov-12 22:05:55

I feel that no matter how very bad adoption is so very final that we should hardly need it. However I am certainly not an expert and have no axe to grind.

There are certainly a lot of miscarriages of justice in this area and adoptions where a relative is on hand or a parent who has moved towns and not enough effort is made to track them down.

I think my views are also covered by all the new work being done on genes and also the outcomes for children in care are so bad that support within the birth family is usually much the better course (as indeed social services will usually try). I know the Tories are currently proposing the exact opposite - much faster adoptions and many more children to be taken from their families which to me is not a very Tory value and they disappoint me. This must be a terribly emotive subject if you are adopted or have adopted of course and I know people like Michael Gove who were adopted will say how well they did was down to that. I just feel the unfairness caused to some does not justify the benefits the process gives to others.

amillionyears Sat 17-Nov-12 22:16:03

From what little I have seen and know, there are a lot of "good" adoptions.
Though it can be heartbreaking for siblings that are not adopted or adopted into different familes, as well as the parents.

Devora Sat 17-Nov-12 22:30:29

So what do you do, Xenia, just leave kids with abusive parents? Or take them into foster care for the duration of their childhoods, maybe to be moved between numerous different foster homes, or care homes, as happens in Ireland?

You are of course right that the outcomes for children in care are poor. The care system desperately needs improvement. But what about the outcomes for children left in abusive homes? And it is important not to forget that children will have entered the care system suffering the effects of abuse and neglect, so hard to separate that from the effects of being in care per se.

Devora Sat 17-Nov-12 22:38:25

And yes, I do have an axe to grind, because I know what kind of life my dd would have had if she hadn't been taken into the care system and then adopted. She has half-siblings who weren't taken into care, and frankly their lives have been so far beyond grim - we are NOT talking irregularly changed nappies. Being adopted by me isn't a happy ever after for her, adoption isn't a fairytale, but she does at least have a fighting chance.

But that doesn't mean I have a rose-tinted view of social workers, or of the child protection system. I have had the joy of working with social workers who were dangerously inept. I have read adoption reports (the long ones they send you when you're being considered as adoptive parents, that give the child's whole story) and literally cried with anger at how social services have failed to provide adequate support, often going through generations. I have worked in the public sector for a long time and know all too well how dysfunctional care services can get. I think there are huge problems to tackle here. But no, I don't think those problems will be overcome by raising the intervention bar higher.

BoneyBackJefferson Sat 17-Nov-12 23:17:20

I wonder what those who are against the system advocate?

If they take the child away they are wrong
If they leave the child they are wrong
If they give support to the parents they are wrong
If they don't give support to the parents they are wrong
If they put the child in a foster home they are wrong
If they have the child adopted they are wrong
If the child grows up to be abusive the system is wrong

I used to read a blog by wilsonsmith (you can still find it) he wrote a book and no longer blogs, but it shows how wrong the system of care homes is/can be. He highlights not only the problems within the system but of bad parents as well.

Spero Sat 17-Nov-12 23:52:08

'Well of course OP, MP John Hummingbirds.'

thank you EnthusiasticTroll, that made me laugh.

On a more serious note, given that Hemming, Booker et al believe that when things go wrong in the child protection system, they go wrong because of deliberate consipiracies between professionals who are paid to ensure that babies are taken into care for adoption... what do they say about care proceedings for much older children?

to what end are these children perceived as valuable commodities for the adoption system?

It will probably not interest JH but I had a client recently who wanted to apply to revoke a placement order regarding her child. The test for this is that you must demonstrate you have made changes to your life that would justify revoking this order. The Judge wanted to hear directly from my client about the changes she had made - and they were quite impressive, considering her previous history.

She stood up and read out large chunks from the Forced Adoption webiste about how her son had been treated as a 'commodity' by the LA who stood to make a large amount of money from his adoption. I watched as the light of interest drained from the Judge's eyes. Her application was refused.

We sorely need an intelligent, informed and honest debate. Particularly as Gove is now off on one saying the threshold for removal needs to be LOWER.

This is the debate we need to be having. JH ought to be putting his muscle as an MP into this sort of thing, which does have the potential to be very damaging to many families and will result in many more children being removed.

But no, its much more fun to talk about conspiracy theories and 'take cases to Europe'.

Did you make much in your blog of the European decision involving the Re P case JH? Not quite what you were hoping for, I think.

Xenia Sun 18-Nov-12 07:06:16

I don't think most of us are against the whole system and we know most social workers do a good job. It is more a question of making a few fundamental changes - taking a view that public justice even if it exposes private information is on the whole better than secrecy.

Secondly many fewer or no adoptions and perhaps only adoption when both parents and all grandparents uncles and aunts together attend court and make it clear they are happy for it to go ahead and the child agrees.

Thirdly,emotional abuse not to be grounds to remove a child ever just physical.

Those are just a few random changes that would help.

FamiliesShareGerms Sun 18-Nov-12 07:37:51

In many child protection cases, the grandparents involved have failed to protect their children from abuse or bring them up in a way that makes them less vulnerable to an abusive relationship. Or even colluded in abuse. Or even abused their own children. Then these children go on to have children who come to the attention of SS. Do you really think that these grandparents are suitable guardians to raise yet another generation of children? Because that's often the reality.

Of course grandparents and wider family should be considered before adoption, and I believe they usually are. But often the concerns about the parents are often played out across the wider family too, hence the need to look outside that circle for a new "forever family".

And "forever" doesn't mean "no contact ever with the birth family again". Most adopted children now have some kind of contact with key family members (parents, siblings, grandparents...) by letter a couple of times a year, and in some circumstances face to face. And when the child is 18 they can receive all the paperwork on their birth family, so they can make contact if they want.

amillionyears Sun 18-Nov-12 07:43:57

"emotional abuse not to be grounds to remove a child ever just physical"
Again, going from what little I know, emotional abuse to a child can be vicious, intense,and prolonged, and largely unseen to the outside world. The mental damage done to that child can last a lifetime. Why wouldnt you want a child removed from that extremely harmful situation?

Xenia, with respect, other family members such as aunts, uncles, and grandparents to a child taken into care, often have very unstable lives themselves. Not all obviously, but, again, only from what I have seen, a large number of them do.
Even if they are suitable, they may not be willing as it would upset or annoy their siblings for example. Also their own partners may not be willing. In fact, there are a lot of reasons why often family members are not willing or able to do it,. They may have their own mental issues, lots of their own children already, or just dont feel able to cope.

Agree with you, on courts being more open to the public. Or at least perhaps to say a panel of 12, in a way,like a jury service?
I personally have just about no knowledge of this bit, perhaps it is done already?

amillionyears Sun 18-Nov-12 07:46:17

Families, is it true that all children when 18, can get all the paperwork?
Also,am I right in thinking that for eg some legal reasons, they do not get it all, or have access to it all.

FamiliesShareGerms Sun 18-Nov-12 08:03:05

amillionyears, we're some way off our (adopted) DD turning 18, so I don't know from personal experience. But we were told that she would get the full file, containing all the paperwork they hold, even potentially distressing material regarding the decisions to remove then place her for adoption. And anything from the birth family that they had sent but was unsuitable so hadn't been forwaded to us at the time. I imagine paperwork involving siblings, for example, would either be withheld or redacted to protect their privacy.

JaquelineHyde Sun 18-Nov-12 08:25:57

Devora I think in the case of my dh's ex and her children the failing was the system regardless of individual. She was able to get lost within the system too easily and then when she was 'on the radar' she manipulated the system with ease using the often naive point of view that all children are better off with their biological mothers.

With my sister the failings I believe were two fold firstly inexperienced and time pressured social workers made judgements prior to full assessments being completed (the judgement being that my neice would be removed from my sister and placed with my Mum under special Guardianship) and then manipulated the system to ensure that that outcome happened. It is happening again with my sisters unborn child and we have no doubt that the baby will be removed at birth and placed with my Mum whilst SG is sorted through the courts.

Once again I must stress that the end outcome in both the cases have been the best outcomes (my sisters dd removed and now under SG with my Mum and my DD's removed from their Mum and placed with my DH, whilst her twins returned to their father and her eldest son was adopted at his request she is not allowed to see any of them) despite mistakes having been made.

As a new SW going into the system I know that I will use my life experience to ensure my practice is of the highest standard, however, I do have concerns for those SWers that come into the system with no life experience to draw on because I can see how easy it would be to make judgements with no understanding of the bigger picture.

amillionyears Sun 18-Nov-12 08:28:23

Can I just ask,respectfully, FamiliesShareGerms,that you try to post a little bit more careful.
I am aware that people also lurk, and this subject is very upsetting to some poeple.
So "And when the child is 18 they can receive all the paperwork on their birth family, so they can make contact if they want", is probably a bit wrong. Dont know for sure, but I think it might be.

JaquelineHyde Sun 18-Nov-12 08:36:39

Hummingbirds Quite simply no I don't agree. I believe that a relationship/bond with a particular person/s is key to the emotional development of a baby, particularly when we consider everything we now know about attachment and it's effect accross the lifespan of an individual. However, I do not believe for one minute that this bond/relationship has to be provided by the biological mother. It could be the father, grandparents, other family members, a secure foster placement or an adoptive family.

As far as breastfeeding is concerned this is surely a sign that you are grasping at straws. We all know that breastmilk is what is best for a newborn child's nutrition, why on earth would I argue that point? However, I believe that the safety of a child trumps the requirement for breast milk every time. I don't think that even the most passionate breastfeeding advocate could argue that point.

If I have missed the point you are trying to make about breastfeeding then please do correct me and I will be happy to discuss this further but I am really quite baffled that you believe that putting a child in danger is worth it as long as the mother breast feeds confused

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